Windows 7 no longer receives security updates as of January 14, so technically, users whose devices are still running this operating system have no other option than to upgrade to Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 to continue to receive patches.
In theory, this is also the path that many Windows 7 users adopt anyway, but some stick with the 2009 operating system simply because of its familiar desktop, as both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 embrace a more modern experience with an app store and a digital assistant.
Microsoft continues to release security updates for Windows 7 as part of the Extended Security Updates (ESU) program, which is available for companies with a fee – it’s believed that in the first year after Windows 7 end-of-support, businesses must pay $25 per each device still running Windows 7 and requiring security updates; the price then doubles every year to $50 and then $100.
But while extended security updates are available for enterprises, they are not for home users, as Microsoft isn’t giving end users any option to continue running Windows 7 securely.ESU for everyone
And yet, a bypass that’s now available online allows any Windows 7 device to get the security updates that Microsoft releases as part of the ESU program, technically keeping them fully patched despite the January 14 end-of-support. The February Patch Tuesday was a key milestone for this hack, and as it turns out, it still works flawlessly, with all updates landing normally on devices where it was used.
In other words, the updates still show up on Windows Update normally, allowing users to patch the known vulnerabilities just like before the January 14 deadline.
It goes without saying that at some point in the future Microsoft could easily block this hack, and it’s probably just a matter of time until it happens anyway. The next Patch Tuesday when Microsoft will release new security updates for Windows 7 takes place on March 10.